Helatorstai 2016

Day 20. It’s a public holiday so let’s leave the word count blank and see how I’m looking on Day 21.

My interview yesterday could have gone better, I think. I got a lot of encouraging remarks from friends and workmates and of course Mrs. Hatboy, but I just walked out of there feeling like I didn’t nail it.

The first interview (and I do want to preface this by saying I did both interviews completely in Finnish) was all about the job and the documents and basically was all about me just confirming that yep, this is as close to my absolute professional forté until such time as someone wants to hire me to write science-fiction or fantasy novels for them. I got on well with the interviewers, made small talk, and generally kicked butt.

This time, I don’t know. It was more “tell me about your career goals” (to have one in ten years?) and “what would your supervisors say are your strengths” (I don’t know, I thought that was why I gave you their contact details so you could talk to them) and “what about your weaknesses” (kryptonite and kicks to the testicles?) and “what inspires you at work” (I’m gonna go with the sight of a colleague taking out a terrorist cell John McClane style, barefoot and single-handed … I’ve never seen it but it would be as inspirational as all get-out) – you know, basic HR style stuff. I stammered and stumbled and said “um” a lot, and couldn’t find the right words to answer the questions, and basically came off looking like a moron. Frustrating.

Oh well, let’s see how it goes.

Anyway, today is a public holiday so I am pre-writing this. Not likely to get on the PC until Friday (which is technically not a public holiday but most people are taking it as one, but I am not). With any luck there will be some movie talk and Game of Thrones to discuss.

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Oh, and in the meantime, I am finally watching the “latest” season of Doctor Who. This one freaked me out a bit.

I should have time to pre-write my weekend stuff on Friday. Sort of makes the “write a blog post every day” rule a bit of a joke, but discipline is discipline. I’d hate to be someone who started to write a blog and then just stopped for months and months.

That would be embarrassing.

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Operation Get Your Rocks Off

Day 19. 100 pages, 44,780 words.

Almost exactly a year ago, I began proceedings to get myself a vasectomy. I was told that it was a long and difficult process (even before taking into account the fact that doctors really have a hard time accepting that a person wants to stop being reproductive, ever), and that I would be waiting a long time before even starting the laborious process of getting a ticket that entitled me to a place in another line … anyway, long story short, they weren’t lying. It’s a long process. I was pretty sure I’d been forgotten and would have to go back to the doctor and remind them that I existed, and so did my sperm.

Well, apparently they didn’t forget me, and now Operation Get Your Rocks Off is a go.

Not exactly “I’m going in this afternoon”, of course. I got a letter yesterday saying that I had been on the waiting list for a fair while (no shit!), and offering me a placement on a private operating table. This comes with a ~€500 discount, but doesn’t say how much the actual operation will cost. I have to call the hospital and find out, and book myself a time.

If I don’t do this by October, I go back onto the waiting list and hope for the best. Basically, if I want to go fully public and have the shit subsidised out of my neutering, I can expect to wait at least another year.

So, the next step beckons! I will give the hospital a call today.

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The Ten Commandments

Day 18. 96 pages, 42,763 words.

Over the past few days, Mrs. Hatboy and I have been watching The Ten Commandments, the 1956 three-hour-forty-minute epic by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston as Moses. It actually held up really well. The acting was cheesy as all get-out but the effects were really top-notch and the scale was … well, classic DeMille.

I lost it for the final ten or fifteen minutes of the movie, though, all because of this guy:

There goes a man who should’ve respected the chain o’ command.

In this scene, Moses is up on the mountain talking to God, and it’s been 40 days and 40 nights[1] and the recently-freed Hebrews are getting antsy. Now, keeping in mind that they’ve been slaves for generations and are now getting a taste of freedom, a certain amount of revelry would seem to be called for. And yeah, fine, God could have carved out those tablets a bit more snappily. At four days per Commandment, it’s a bit of a slow documentation milestone roadmap.

[1] What was the Bible’s fascination with 40? I’m pretty sure it rained for 40 days and 40 nights when the world flooded, and God sent the Hebrews to wander in the desert for 40 years after this little Golden Calf snafu as well.

On the other hand, the Hebrews were freed by literally honest-to-God miracles including a pillar of fire and the parting of the Red Sea, and this was on top of all those plagues that Moses flung at poor old Yul Brynner[2]. You’d think that God, as an effective deliverer of the goods, would be pretty fresh in their memories and less than six weeks of waiting at Sinai base camp would do nothing to dent their optimism.

[2] You know, aside from his rather lazy lip service to the Egyptian Gods, Ramses really was the ultimate atheist in this movie. He stood up to the Hebrews and their murderous God with some damn respect-worthy courage, and went on insisting that Moses was performing cheap tricks right up to the moment the Red Sea swallowed his entire freaking army. When his captain of the guard said, “Let us go from this place; men cannot fight against a God,” Ramses gave the brilliant line, “Better to die in battle with a God than to live in shame.” I do believe dreameling would have approved.

Anyway, Dathan – a slimy, sleazy collaborator-type who I can’t believe they allowed to come with them in the first place, whipped up the crowd and got them worshipping a Golden Calf in basically no time. We can’t really blame the movie, of course – it was just going on the material in the Bible, and that was some pretty darn dubious material. And I have to say the revelries looked a lot more fun than anything God and Moses had in mind.

But the show was stolen, despite Dathan’s passionate speech, by Chain O’ Command Guy.

Chain O’ Command Guy had one job, and he did it well. Okay, actually, he had two jobs – his other job was to go back onto his mark, and he more or less got that right too except he had to look down.

I had to make an animated gif out of it, here’s the original with sound which makes it even funnier.

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The Eleventh Commandment was apparently “Thou shalt shut thy dillweed mouth while Dathan is talking”, but the extra from The Life of Brian clearly missed that memo.

There’s just so much that’s funny in these few seconds of classic cinema. I point not only to Chain O’ Command Guy and his nonchalant-as-fuck return-to-mark, but also Dathan’s sociopathic clinical look as the chain-whopped guy goes down like a sack of shit, and that guy in the white headdress who comes walking up to stand beside Dathan right at the moment of the chain-whopping. And that dude in the red headdress standing next to him, who just watches the whole thing and doesn’t seem to give a single fuck. And the beefcake with the spear who is standing next to Chain O’ Command Guy, who sort of gives him this “nailed it, bruh” look at the end.

Hilarious.

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The Grubby Flouse

Day 17. 92 pages, 40,698 words. Well that was a crap weekend for writing.

On Saturday, we formed a little posse – specifically my father-in-law, Vuta, Ville and me – and headed out to pick up a leikkimökki – a cubby house – from a stranger’s yard. My father-in-law had found it online, offered free of charge provided we came to pick it up. With this in mind, he’d gathered together a big mess of straps and winches, and rented a trailer, and so off we went. There were a few false starts as we visited the hardware store for two-by-fours and obviously we had to rent the trailer, but eventually we got there.

I thought it was just going to be the usual little garden cubby house, about the same as the one we got rid of a few years back. Little did I know how gigantic the damn thing was going to be. It was more like a little house, a granny flat.

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One part cubby house, one part granny flat. Now, perhaps, you realise why I have called it “the Grubby Flouse”.

And there were 300 kilograms of tiles on its roof! I only started taking pictures after we’d lifted them all down and piled them up, but they were there.

So, first we took off the tiles and piled them up, like I said. Then we ran straps around the Flouse, connected them to the trailer, whopped a couple of two-by-fours down, and winched that fucker up onto the trailer. I’d thought there was no damn way. But what the Hell, it worked.

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The original owners had built the Flouse on-site and with no intention of ever moving it, so it took a bit of yard with it when it came out. Also, it ripped its back wall off a tad. But that was okay, we figured pulling it off the trailer at the other end would push the wall back on. The walls, incidentally, were insulated and clad and generally like actual proper walls, not just leikkimökki panels.

Then we loaded all the tiles into the Flouse, and trundled the big bastard home. And, of course, unloaded the tiles again. The next job was dropping the Flouse into our own yard.

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Wump was pleased. She’d always wanted a Grubby Flouse.

We originally planned on tying the Flouse to a big rock in our yard and then just driving the trailer out from beneath it. So that’s what we did. Not much point having a plan if you don’t stick to it, right?

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“Stick to the plan.”
– Someone who died sticking to the plan.

But the car – weighed down by the trailer for minimal front-tyre traction – couldn’t handle it. So we tied the car to the carport, and winched it forward as it drove. What could possibly go wrong?

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“Nothing could possi-blye go wrong.”
– Itchy and Scratchy Land employee.

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There was no actual tension on the cables while Wump was squatting there, by the way. But hey, anyway, it worked.

That got the Flouse to the edge of the trailer. We set up the two-by-four ramps again and ended up having to chainsaw off the bottom parts of the cladding around the Flouse, because it was lower than the Flouse foundation and was catching on the ramp, just like it had caught in the dirt when we were picking it up. And it did sort of push the wall back on, but not very well.

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I think the trailer only got slightly chainsawed.

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In the end, we got the Flouse down. In the process, there was a lot of dicking around with rocks for the new foundation, and a lot of sitting on super-high-tension two-by-fours to prop up the Flouse while people put their hands underneath it in a really ill-advised way.
I decided not to publish any of this until after the fact, specifically because it would have made Mr. BRKN cry.

We still need to replace the temporary foundations using a jack, but this will do for now.

Then on Sunday, I put the tiles back on again while Mrs. Hatboy and Wump passed them up to me, and we got the darn thing finished. Just in time for a nice Vappu barbecue.

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My father-in-law described it as one of the crazier things he had ever done. This is a lofty title.

The Grubby Flouse is now open for business as a Bar Äijä’s overnight hostel.

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A Brief History of Me

Day 16. No writing. And WordPress for Windows Phone ate my ready-to-post draft without a fucking trace so here I fucking am trying to recreate this fucking post before my morning Goddamn coffee. Fuck you, WordPress.

So, anyway, tomorrow I am off to visit a school in Helsinki, where I will be giving a little presentation to the 8th grade kids about being an Australian migrant in Finland and a little bit about my land of origin.

This is the presentation I’ve decided on.

hist (1)hist (2)hist (3)hist (4)hist (5)hist (6)hist (7)hist (8)hist (9)hist (10)hist (11)

The end.

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Job hunting, revisited

Day 15. Weekend, count suspended.

I thought I would offer the following little snapshot of the fun and interesting job-hoops that I have recently been required to jump through. This one was for a workplace personality test of some sort, and at the end it didn’t tell me I was Optimus Prime or Posh Spice or whatever, unlike most of the online personality tests I do.

Actually it didn’t tell me very much at all, but presumably it will tell my prospective employers something. Some of the questions were interesting, and others were just plain baffling. They were all True or False, and – as I will drop a sample here – sometimes it was just plain impossible to answer them.

I often find myself not knowing about things happening in other people’s lives.

Well, this is patently True. There’s around seven billion people in the world and I know all of about five hundred of them. Fair to say there’s a ton of crap going on in other people’s lives that is a) completely unknown to me, and b) none of my damn stinkin’ business.

My morals are on higher level than the average.

I answered True to this – not because I think I’m more moral than any of my friends and family (although I may well be more moral than some of my rat fink weasel bastard friends…), but because I’m pretty sure I am a more generally ethical and well-behaved person than at least half of the population. This is purely and simply because I can afford to be. I’m a middle-class first world white cis male, and morality is the luxury of the fortunate few. Of course, this question also fails to encompass what exactly ‘morals’ are, but it was only a 30-minute test.

I’m ready to lie a little if some personal interest important to me is threatened.

Again, I answered True. Only because ‘a little’ is the operative term here. What is lying ‘a little’? I assume it just means misleading someone in a small and harmless way. Sure, if I consider it important, I guess there are situations I can envisage where I would be ready to lie. A little.

I’m not always willing to help others when I have much to do myself.

I answered True. Of course, if I have a ton of stuff to do and a heap of stuff to worry about, I’m going to be selfish. But again, this question doesn’t say I won’t help. Just that I won’t do it willingly. I might do it grudgingly.

I pay more attention to the utility of objects than to their beauty.

This is stupid. It depends on the object, doesn’t it? If you’re talking about something that’s pretty for the sake of pretty, I’m going to care more about how nice it looks. If you’re talking colostomy bags, they can be gunmetal grey and have a swastika on them for all I care, as long as they holdey the poo-poo.

I always prefer to work in projects with clearly defined procedures.

Depends on the project. But yes, doesn’t everybody like to know more or less how to do a thing?

I believe that competition is a central incentive underlying human action.

I answered True – just because I believe it, doesn’t mean I approve of it. I think it’s just a sad fact of life and evolution. We have survived because we won the kill, eat, fuck game.

I can always make the right decisions, even in difficult situations.

Always? What sort of sociopath would say True to this?

I like the kind of work that allows [me] to concentrate on particular matters.

I found this question meaningless in its vagueness. ‘Particular matters’? ‘Kind of work’? Sure, I like to have work to do that doesn’t constantly distract me from itself. What?

It’s very important for me to be well paid for my work.

It’s not super-important – for example, I don’t get particularly well-paid for my novels (at the moment). But until we become a truly post-capitalist and post-scarcity civilisation, yeah it’s going to be important to be that I get some sort of payment so I can feed my family.

I’m able to get many projects going at the same time because I don’t plan too much ahead.

Seems to me there’s no good answer to this one. If I answer True in the hope of sounding like a good multi-tasker, I am a bad planner. If I answer False because I don’t want to sound like I don’t plan ahead, I’m incapable of doing more than one thing at once.

I have sometimes bad thoughts about other people.

Uh, of course I do? You saw me mention my rat fink weasel bastard friends up there, right?

I always want to work thoroughly, even if it wasn’t necessary.

This seems odd to me. If it’s not necessary – really, really not necessary – then why work thoroughly? Of course you want to work thoroughly enough, but you also want to manage your effort and not waste time and resources, right? So anyway, I answered False.

I don’t like to give up doing something even when it appears that I’m not making any progress.

I don’t like to … but again, pragmatism. Shouldn’t I give up, rather than waste effort? Then again, the key word here would seem to be ‘appears’. Maybe I am making progress, it just doesn’t appear like I am.

I prefer changes to happen gradually.

By and large, this is True. I think changes that happen suddenly are more likely to be violent, or impermanent, or both. Sometimes an abrupt and total change is vital, but usually it’s the slow and steady improvement that works.

I’m a perfectionist.

What do you say to this? Sure I am, a bit, about some things. How extreme do you need to be in order to really take on this label, though?

I continue to work on a problem even when I have a bad headache.

How bad a headache? Surely I’m just wasting effort and making matters worse when I should just take it easy and come back to the problem when I’m feeling better?

I always prefer to work with other people rather than by myself.

Again with the ‘always’. No, of course not always. Sometimes the work is mine and mine alone.

I’m usually willing to take the risk even if the chances for success are small.

What? That depends entirely on the risk! If I have a small chance to stop a beetle from getting run over by a truck and there’s a huge risk the truck’s going to cream me, I won’t take that risk. Substitute the beetle for one of my daughters, and I’m sliding down the last few feet of the road to Hell with an appropriate truck logo pasted across my forehead. Usually, if the risk isn’t too stupid and the success would be darn cool, then yeah. I’ll take the risk.

I like films and stories that have clear endings.

I like lots of different sorts of films and stories. Yes, I like the ones with clear endings if that’s what the story requires. If the story requires a bit of ambiguity, then that’s also good. Saying False to this strikes me as a strange choice.

That was it. To be continued.

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The Wheel Turns. Again.

Day 14. 91 pages, 40,080 words.

My Facebook news feed tells me that the Wheel of Time television series is one step closer to reality today. You may remember this from about a year ago, when the amusingly-named Red Eagle media group did a pilot and then there was a legal fuckarow about it.

Well, this morning there was some more news on it. Apparently the legal twattery has been sorted out and there’s totally going to be a television series coming out. Maybe not soon, but there will at least be some sort of announcement.

They probably shouldn’t have let Game of Thrones and the Shannara series come out first, but oh well. These things take time. Let’s see how the proceed from here.

I have won again

I’m still heavily invested in the idea of Billy Zane as Ishamael now that it’s been raised as a possibility.

I was going to prattle more about this today, but Toop was still down with a fever this morning and Mrs. Hatboy was needed at school, so I sat in with the little snot machine instead. Morning up in smoke. Or, more accurately, snot.

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